Containers forum: Cloth and Cement

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Name: cheshirekat
New Mexico, USA Zone 8 (Zone 8a)
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ckatNM
Jun 6, 2014 9:09 PM CST
I got a bit of help getting the materials for this project. Got a bag of mason cement after my friend and I talked a bit about the project with half a dozen HD guys and they finally agreed mason's cement would be a good choice. There were too many types of cement for my friend and I to decide on our own.

I got a couple different cans of paint. The colors I picked out for the HD guys to mix are... I am not gonna tell. You just have to wait to see. Although one color will be predictable from my previous posts. And I also have my very own collection of... paint brushes! I had to get a couple different sizes so I can paint a couple of big planters without it taking all day. I probably could have used my roommate's paint brushes, but he is always doing one wood project after another, and I didn't want my projects to interfere with his projects.

I don't know what others will use, but I chose to use satin exterior paint. If I succeed at making something that is decent looking, I may try other types of paint later. I'm leaning towards the semi-gloss instead of flat paints because I've been told that a quick rinse with water will make dirt come off easily. I know nothing about paints, so this is what I've been told by experts. I want my pots to look good when I clean them up. There is some dye type stuff that can be mixed into the cement, which I decided might take the fun out of the project. But I am open to considering it later. I also want to try the spray paints sometime, but I don't know how often I would use them with the winds here.

I went to my favorite thrift store and the owner practically gave me a bunch of different cloth to use. Some sheets and pillow cases of different textures. Although I have decided a couple of the pillow cases are keepers - to be replaced with pillow cases I am unable to use because of my sensitive skin. I want to try terrycloth next time because I love the texture I think will show well for this project. He didn't have very many towels, so I didn't want to deplete what little he had.

I have a big stack of advertisements to put on the ground to keep from getting the place messy with cement or paint. I am still unsure where to do this in the yard so that I can work out of the sun, but allow them to be left alone to cure, and to dry the paint.

It has been a long day, but I am hoping to find the energy to get up early to get the materials arranged and have at least one pot done with the cement water part by noon to avoid the hot parts of the day. With painting to follow on another day. I still have to find my disposable gloves tonight.
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Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Jun 6, 2014 9:19 PM CST
Thanks Chesh, for sharing your planning and execution of the buying stage of materials to be used. Sounds like a good start. If your friend was to help you tomorrow too, you might get a few draped? If not, then you could work at your own leisurely pace, enjoying every step. Hope it goes well! Smiling
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
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extranjera
Jun 6, 2014 10:28 PM CST
What a fun project! Any idea yet for the ratio of cement to water?

I was also thinking that you could paint them with buttermilk and rub moss on them when they are dry to get a funky, mossy look. Or, just put different colors of dirt on them when they are still a little damp.

I may have to give this a try too.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: cheshirekat
New Mexico, USA Zone 8 (Zone 8a)
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ckatNM
Jun 7, 2014 1:13 AM CST
I think the ratio of cement to water will depend on what cement is used. I understand the mason will be a bit more smooth because I guess it doesn't have sand. Or finer sand is in some of the cements. The HD guys said I can always add sand to the mixture for a different texture. But clumping might be an issue, or a feature with some cloth textures. I think the terrycloth might be ideal for adding sand, or using cement with sand with thicker cement. On the other hand, some smooth fabrics might not hold very much of the cement water, unless the consistency of the cement water is thicker. Apparently, the mason cement won't break down as easily during drying or use. But the thickness you want will have to be eyeballed and adjusted taking into account all the factors, plus the size of the container itself. I thought the qwik-crete stuff would be the better choice because it sets and dries quickly, but the resulting container may not be lasting with dilution.

It will be a lot like working with paper mache I imagine. Especially the first container when determining the best ratio as the cement water is absorbed into the fabric and begins to drip. I have some old washcloths and hand towels for the initial tests. Some are worn and thin so hopefully I can figure out if the dilution will be better thicker or thinner with the appropriate thick or thin cloth fast enough to make adjustments with the mason cement more so than cement that would start drying too soon.

For each planter, it is a good idea to have a sturdy base underneath that is smaller than the planter itself, but allows the fabric to hang freely without touching the ground or other objects. I will be using stacked bricks of different sizes for the smaller planters. I really want to make a couple large planters, once all the details are worked out, but I haven't come up with a base/stand yet for large sizes. I have something in mind, but I have to consider the weight of a large planter and being able to move it, and not be in the way, and not damage the base.

My roommate thinks I am over-thinking the project. But, I have several dozen pots the neighbor gave me when she moved out. So I can get in plenty of practice as long as I don't run out of fabric to experiment with and have a decent base for each planter. I told my friends and my roommate to stay away so I don't have to suffer embarrassment if I make a few mistakes as I figure it all out. No witnesses.
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Name: aud/odd
Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Cinta
Jun 7, 2014 11:27 AM CST
ckatNM, thank you for sharing your info. This will be fun to see what we come up with.

I was a on the side seamstress a few years back. I have a lot of fabric so I do not have to buy that. I had left over concrete from rehab jobs in the garage so I am going to try to do some tests tomorrow. I am using left over paint that I have already and I also have some Satin Polycrylic Protective spray. I use it on my terra cotta pots and leave them outside in the winter under plastic cover.

So my test will not cost me anything right now. I will see how my experiment works out.
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
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extranjera
Jun 7, 2014 11:39 AM CST
I may put this off until July when I have workers coming in to redo my roof garden, they will be tiling and building some block planters. They can make the mix, and I'll just try it out. I have a feeling they will be interested in it as they can make anything out of concrete here and these are pretty and practical.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: cheshirekat
New Mexico, USA Zone 8 (Zone 8a)
Herbs Dog Lover Bee Lover Vegetable Grower Garden Procrastinator
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ckatNM
Jun 9, 2014 8:59 AM CST
Okay. I've done this. Only made a couple pots, because, as I thought, thicker cloth is better. I thought the terrycloth was perfect.

But, I had a little accident while arranging stands for this project. I needed a bigger stand, so the roommate reminded me where we had a longer cement block under the tub of tomatoes. I got it over to where I was working, but then dropped it on my foot. Tried to get some more done after taking some pain pills. Didn't really happen.

When my foot isn't so swollen and doesn't hurt so much, I want to try to work with the thin cloth a bit more. I would like to know if I can thicken the planters by waiting for the cement to dry, then adding more cement for those with the thin cloth. I do have more thick cloth to use, but I haven't cut it up yet. I wanted to start with the thinner stuff and smaller pieces because I want to make bigger planters with the thick stuff. I especially want to make a big and long pot for my clematis. I also want to make a large pot for the fig tree I plan to buy from HD if they still have them when I have the money.
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Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Jun 9, 2014 11:31 AM CST
Ooh, hope your foot gets better, Chesh...you can make new pots but not new feet... Crying
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Jun 9, 2014 1:16 PM CST
I love this idea! An old shower curtain spread beneath will catch the drips and they'll probably peel right off the curtain when hardened. Ckat, I don't think adding wet cement to dry cement will work. I think the second layer won't adhere to the dry layer. I've gotta try this!
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Name: cheshirekat
New Mexico, USA Zone 8 (Zone 8a)
Herbs Dog Lover Bee Lover Vegetable Grower Garden Procrastinator
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ckatNM
Jun 9, 2014 7:43 PM CST
@Sharon, you are right, wet cement probably won't adhere. I meant to say wait for the cement to start to harden and try to thicken it up with more cement. This may not work either, but I planned to give it a shot.

The dry and not-so-dry cement falls off the thin material very easily. So, I think it would take quite a bit of time to work this out. I will continue to use thick material. But I will wait a few days when I can maneuver on my feet a little better. And maybe a different stand idea will present itself. Every idea I've come up with will have to wait until pay day.

Tomorrow I get to go listen to the doctor remind me that I am not steady enough to be lifting heavy objects. Also, I have numbness and tingling in my hands and arms often enough that it is a safety issue whenever carrying anything heavy or made of glass I could drop. It was a very clumsy day for me and I pushed my luck carrying the cement block. I was having so much fun doing this project that I didn't have the patience to wait for the roommate's help. Then I felt more guilty afterward, because then he really had to help me a lot.

I am looking forward to the painting stage. And then when the planters are ready to put plants in them. The planter I made with terrycloth will probably be dry tomorrow! I can sit while painting it. But it is small, so I will probably just plant some herbs.
"A garden is a friend you can visit any time." - Anonymous
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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Sharon
Jun 9, 2014 8:10 PM CST
Cinta's original post -- in the picture it says 'cement water' and I'm thinking that means it's watered down cement, more liquid than cement-y.

When you add water to Elmer's glue and dip cloth in it, then drape that cloth over something and let it dry, the folds form as it hangs. When dry, the Elmer's glue dries hard, holds the folds in place. I think the same would apply to cement water, but it would be permanent, unlike Elmer's which will fall apart when wet again.

I also think the cement water should be a little bit thick, but not very -- otherwise the finished product folds will crack or break easily.

I don't know . . . just thinking out loud because I really like this project.
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Ferns Daylilies Irises Cat Lover
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Sharon
Jun 9, 2014 8:20 PM CST
OH WAIT!!! Found this along with the same picture:

"Cement pots: Use water, cement and old towels/rags/tablecloths. Make a "tea" of cement and water, soak cloth til heavy, drape over an upside down container/bucket, arrange as you please. Let cure. If needed coat with more cement to increase strength. Paint/stain as desired. drop potted flowers inside new holder."

So that means the liquid is like tea and it says you can coat it with cement after the form has cured to make it stronger.
Also notice that it says they hold 'POTTED plants, so the plants would not necessarily have contact with the cement form.
This was on Pinterest, hang on a minute and I'll see if I can find the original source and grab us a link to it.
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Ferns Daylilies Irises Cat Lover
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Sharon
Jun 9, 2014 8:50 PM CST
Y'all thought I fell asleep, didn't you?

I found it but it's in another language that I don't recognize and my computer is rebelling and won't translate it for me. But it really says very little so I think the above directions in my previous post are about as good as it gets. We have stormy weather all week and that's not a good time to work in cement, so I'll have to wait a little while to try. I do think the 'cement water' is the key, though. That and heavy cloth.

Maybe your computer is more cooperative than mine tonight. Here's the link if you want to try your luck:

http://jonnipunni.blogspot.ca/...
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Name: cheshirekat
New Mexico, USA Zone 8 (Zone 8a)
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ckatNM
Jun 9, 2014 9:28 PM CST
My impression of cement water was that the mixture would be thin, like water. However, I started out with the cement water less viscous and increased the amount of cement. As I said, the thicker cloth absorbed and held onto the cement water better than the thinner cloth. I could not get thin cloth to hold the cement water, even when thickened. The more I thickened it, the faster it seemed to flow/drip off the cloth sides, but it did thicken on the flat top.

Also, when I had problems with the thin cloth and went to thicker cloth, I took a break and looked at the original picture more closely. Comparing the results of my attempts with the original picture, it was obvious to me thicker cloth was used based on the folds of the cloth. It was the difference I was seeing before me with both thin forms and thick forms side by side.

I will experiment more. I don't know that I can explain better. I think one just needs to experiment a little to see with their own eyes. I played with the folds of the different cloths dry, wet with only water, thin cement water, and thicker cement water. I need to find more cloth of medium thickness before I move on to the cloth that is really thick, which I want to use for much larger planters where the thickness will provide stronger pots, I think..
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Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Jun 9, 2014 11:21 PM CST
Sharon said:
Maybe your computer is more cooperative than mine tonight. Here's the link if you want to try your luck:

http://jonnipunni.blogspot.ca/...


Google Translation of the text from the above link:
"Flowerpots are needed for making cement, water and a rag. Take an old towel or rag arbitrary, tea and water, enough liquid cement mixture and dipped a rag in there. Find in a timely manner after which they will hang up to dry. If necessary, you can later on, as it seems to,,'' flower pot is too soft, cover it with cement. "

[Last edited by webesemps - Jun 9, 2014 11:22 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #634933 (15)
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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Sharon
Jun 10, 2014 12:09 AM CST
Thank you, Bev!!
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Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Jun 10, 2014 1:00 AM CST
I tip my hat to you. Thank you for finding the link!
Name: David Paul
(Zone 9b)
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DavidofDeLand
Jun 10, 2014 10:06 AM CST
Cinta said:Saw this and thought it was neat.

Cement Cloth pots
Thumb of 2014-06-03/Cinta/7b3898


Fabulous! I'm gonna try it someday Thumbs up

You are a Muse for sharing this..................
[Last edited by DavidofDeLand - Jun 10, 2014 10:11 AM (+)]
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Name: David Paul
(Zone 9b)
Cat Lover Hibiscus Seed Starter Native Plants and Wildflowers Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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DavidofDeLand
Jun 10, 2014 2:56 PM CST
This really has me researching. Thank you Cinta!

Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Ferns Daylilies Irises Cat Lover
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Sharon
Jun 10, 2014 3:43 PM CST
I was thinking about papier mache' and remembered that as an art teacher one of the techniques I taught in a 3-D class was with fabric and wheat paste, the kind that's used for papier mache', purchased for the project and not homemade paste. We did the same thing. We soaked the fabric in a tub of wet wheat paste then layered the fabric over the armature we were building. Whatever dripped off was left laying. It dried hard and held it's form. Then we spray painted it gold. The project I'm thinking of was a sculptural angel to use in a play in our theater at school. So the angel needed draped clothing and even with wheat paste, she held up well. She was about my size, maybe 5' tall, but of course she had wings and I don't. Smiling So actually she was bigger than I am. For the wings we did the same thing, used soaked cloth draped around shaped wire. It lasted for years and we used it over and over again, nothing but wheat paste and fabric. Seems that we used a heavy cotton duck type fabric, not as thick as canvas but quite thick.

And my point -- So if we are talking about a container made with the same techniques used to hold a potted plant, then I think since the cement is very strong, even thinned, it should hold up pretty well. Just like the papier mache' angel did, but for much longer. Only being kicked around or knocked over would be a problem. A lot like hypertufa, but much thicker.

If it ever stops raining, I'll try it. I'm anxious to see ckat's results and how it looks with added cement. Go Ckat Go!!!! You have much better weather than I do.

David, you too, I can't wait to see what you do. I get a little crazy when things like this come along, excited crazy and can't wait to try them. You'd think I'd be over it after teaching art nearly 40 years.
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